HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Wolf, Sen. Jake Corman and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation officials were joined by local officials and stakeholders Wednesday to announce that efforts to connect the area of Seven Mountains to the greater State College area are restarting after being shelved for more than 15 years.
“This connection has been a significant local priority for some time and was studied in detail but was unfortunately shelved in 2004 due to lack of federal funding,” said Wolf.
“So, in the absence of federal investments that we were all promised, today, I’m happy to announce that we are taking steps to make a long-awaited connection project a reality.”
Stakeholders and community members in south-central Centre County have long desired a four-lane connection that would increase safety and mobility in the often-congested area.
“I am delighted to be joining Gov. Wolf here today to make this announcement,” Corman said. “This project is of great importance for Centre County, for the thousands who travel this road every day and for the hundreds of thousands who travel this stretch throughout the year.
“The safety enhancements that will be achieved through this project are vital for our growing community. In addition to improving the quality of life, these long-awaited upgrades also will provide a significant boost to our local economy as it makes the area even more attractive to employers.”
Wolf announced that PennDOT is committing $5 million to begin preliminary engineering this year on this complex, significant project, and emphasized that community involvement will be a critical component of the project-development process.
Given the extensive collaboration with local communities, businesses and others through the design, utilities and right-of-way phases, the department is also taking steps to align resources for a targeted 2027 construction start.
Act 89 of 2013 made possible some significant improvements in the region but did not provide enough for this project, and the state continues to await federal action on meaningful transportation investment.
In the absence of additional federal investments to allow more state-funding options, PennDOT has committed discretionary funding to make the project a reality without changing overall transportation project plans.
The commitment follows action from the administration in 2017 when the department started a refresh of environmental, traffic and safety data regarding commercial development and community needs for a corridor involving Route 322, Route 45 and Route 144 in south central Centre County. Preliminary data from that refresh shows that from 1999 to 2016, truck traffic has increased 37 percent.
The project also builds on significant improvements that have been made in the area and are continuing through three phases of the Potters Mills Gap (PMG) project on Route 322:
- Phase One: Construction of a new, overhead bridge near Sand Mountain Road at a cost of $2 million and completed in September of 2015;
- Phase Two: Construction of the new interchange at Sand Mountain Road at a cost of $8.7 million and completed in November of 2017; and
- Phase Three: Reconstruction of U.S. 322 from Potters Mills to Sand Mountain Road including the western interchange and the local interchange at a cost of $82.3 million; bid in late March of 2018 and expected to open to traffic in late 2020.
Additional information on the PMG project can be found at www.penndot.gov/PottersMillsGap. Subscribe to PennDOT news in Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Juniata, McKean, Mifflin and Potter counties at www.penndot.gov/District2.